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Caption This Photo: ¡Los Dos Payasos!

This weekend at an event in downtown Denver, what will surely go down as one of the most memorable images of the 2014 election season in Colorado was recorded for posterity and forwarded to us. The event was the Fiestas Patrias festival in Denver's Civic Center Park, celebrating Mexico's Independence Day. The candidate was GOP gubernatorial nominee Bob Beauprez.

The unforgettable photo was made possible by Bob's friend Ronald McDonald.

beauprezclowns

Ordinarily, we would say a photo like this should never, ever see the light of day, as long as the politician depicted in said photo retained any desire to ever be elected to political office again.

But folks, this is the politician who allowed himself to be photographed in a black hat next to a horse's ass.

And apparently, eight years of ridicule taught Beauprez no lessons on being more careful with one's image.

So don't feel bad about the captions, gentle reader. He's got them all coming.

Don Suppes Joins Ready, Dr. Chaps, in the “WTF Gang”

UPDATE: Don Suppes appears to understand the problem with his social media posts, though it seems he is still trying to figure out how to deal with this problem. Earlier, we wrote that the Twitter accounts @DonSuppes2014 had been disabled, leaving only @DonSuppes as a Twitter account for the candidate. Well…now things have reversed, for some reason. The @DonSuppes account is inactive, but the @DonSuppes2014 accounts has been re-activated. In retrospect, perhaps Suppes should have just refrained from sharing stories about white supremacists and wild conspiracy theories altogether.

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TheWTF-Gang

Tom Ready, Don Suppes, Gordon Klingenschmitt, and Nate Marshall

Republican Don Suppes is running against Democrat Kerry Donovan in SD-5, a huge, meandering Senate district in central Colorado that is one of the most hotly-contested races in 2014.

Suppes is apparently the Mayor of a Western Colorado town called Orchard City, and he likes to say that he is the "most conservative mayor in Colorado." We don't know if that statement contains any truth to it or not, but we won't try to refute it since we've only been aware of the existence of Orchard City for a few hours now. However, we can confidently say that Suppes is not one of the smartest mayors in Colorado, and you'll probably agree after reading this. 

Suppes is the latest Republican candidate to join the group that we'll (not-so-affectionately) call "The WTF Gang" that includes Pueblo County Commissioner candidate Tom Ready; HD-15 Republican nominee Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt; former HD-23 candidate Nate Marshall; and a host of other characters whose public statements are often met with a similar response from average Coloradans: "WTF are they talking about?"

Following on the heels of the recent idiocy perpetrated by Tom Ready comes a video (after the jump) in which it is revealed that Don Suppes has some, well, interesting, views on race and is really concerned about one of our favorite ridiculous conspiracy theories — the United Nations is coming to steal your guns treaty.  

Don Suppes Twitter

The Twitter account above was deleted sometime in the past few days.

Suppes only recently deleted the Twitter account @DonSuppes2014, presumably to try to scrub the Internet tubes of some horrifying links that the Orchard City Mayor thought were worth considering.

Just last May, for example, Suppes Tweeted the comments, "Interesting read," in linking to Suthenboy.com, a white-supremacist website that predicts "The South Shall Rise." 

You know what is really interesting about this, Don? That you would think nothing of sharing information about white supremacists as both a sitting mayor and a candidate for State Senate.

In conservative Tea Party parlance, which Ready and others have used before, "Interesting information" or "worth of discussion" has become the conversational equivalent of saying "No offense" before saying something mean and/or inappropriate to another person. Check out the video after the jump for more of Suppes' "ideas."

 

 

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Ethics Watch Calls Out Coffman’s Frequent Franking

coffmanfrankmilitary

A press release today from Colorado Ethics Watch announces that group's request for an investigation by the U.S. Office of Congressional Ethics of GOP Rep. Mike Coffman, citing what they consider excessively heavy–and excessively political–use of the so-called "franking privilege," or free mailings to constituents that aren't supposed to be related to electioneering.

In Coffman's case, Ethics Watch alleges, the franking has gone well beyond any reasonable level:

Today, Colorado Ethics Watch asked the Office of Congressional Ethics to determine whether Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) abused the Congressional franking privilege, using tax dollars to support his re-election campaign.

Between January 2013 and the present, residents of Colorado’s 6th Congressional District have been receiving unsolicited “Official Mail” from Rep. Coffman, which has cost the taxpayers in excess of $260,000.  Ethics Watch’s request asks the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate evidence that the majority of the unsolicited mass mail is for political rather than official purposes, noting that the timing and increased frequency is likely in response to Rep. Coffman having a challenger for the 6th District, former Speaker of the Colorado House Andrew Romanoff. 

Before the race became competitive, Rep. Coffman used the franking privilege properly to communicate information about services and specific accomplishments as a Member of Congress.  After the race became competitive, Coffman went from being Rep. Coffman to candidate Coffman.  Instead of talking about specifics, the mail turned into campaign pieces meant to persuade the reader.  

“If you compare the pieces of mass mail the Congressman sent before he had a legitimate opponent for CD-6 and after he had a competitive race with the entry of Romanoff, it does not pass the smell test,” said Luis Toro, Director of Ethics Watch.  “Any reader who compares the pieces, as the Congressional Franking Commission should have, can tell when Congressman Coffman changed his tactics."

Coffman's total expenditures on franking communications with his constituents since 2013 appear to be well in excess of the average among members of Congress who send mass mailings at all (only 80% or so do accounting to the Congressional Research Service). But in addition to that, Ethics Watch says the content of Coffman's taxpayer-funded mailings is unacceptably close to Coffman's campaign message materials for re-election.

The fact is, most members of Congress take advantage of the franking privilege. But the combination of Coffman's far heavier use of taxpayer-funded mailings since his district became more competitive in the 2011 redistricting process, with what certainly looks to us to be a straightforward election-season message…well, yes. We could see the Office of Congressional Ethics reasonably taking an interest in this complaint.

Even if they don't, or more likely don't before the electin, it's another bit of evidence of Coffman's deep concerns about survival in a district that no longer fits his brand of beet-red conservative politics. Coffman barely stayed alive in 2012 against a comparatively weak opponent, and even with a major PR offensive with his new constituents, 2014 is looking like the fight of Coffman's political life–with a very good possibility of unemployment in January.

Obviously, if the PR offensive itself becomes a scandal, that won't help.

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Deleted article stubbornly remains in library’s Denver Post digital archive

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

I was perusing the Denver Public Library’s Denver Post archive, on NewsBank, and smiled when I saw an article by former Post reporter Kurtis Lee titled, "Coffman shifts on abortion, personhood."

That's the story Denver Post Politics Editor Chuck Plunkett removed from the Post's website hours after it was published April 16.

I clicked on the article, and there it was, complete and unabridged. It noted that "not long ago, Coffman won praise from hard-line pro-life groups for his opposition to abortion even in cases of rape and incest and support of personhood initiatives that effectively would have outlawed abortion in Colorado." And it included Coffman's response when asked to elaborate on why he abandoned his longstanding support for a personhood abortion ban: "There are parts of it that are simply unintended. … I think it's too overbroad and that the voters have spoken."

You recall the short-lived publication of the piece unleashed long-winded criticism from progressives, and, to his credit, Plunkett responded with blog posts of his own, explaining his decision to un-publish the piece and offering Coffman's quotes and other new information in the disappeared article. But Lee's original piece was never re-published on The Post's website or in the newspaper.

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Pueblo Chieftain Defends Tom Ready, Shoots Messenger

UPDATE: The calls for Republicans who attended Tom Ready's fundraiser last month to disown him continue:

A Colorado independent nonprofit group whose mission is to hold Republican nominee for Governor Bob Beauprez accountable called on Beauprez to renounce his appearance with a Sandy Hook denier who questioned whether the event really took place.

"We call on Beauprez to immediately renounce his association and support for appearing with a radical extremist who questioned whether the Sandy Hook massacre occurred," stated Michael Huttner, spokesman for Making Colorado Great.

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Pueblo Commissioner candidate Tom Ready (R).

Pueblo Commissioner candidate Tom Ready (R).

We've had our complaints over the years with the quality of news reporting at the Pueblo Chieftain, which has at times been unforgivably bad. With that said, the Chieftain has done a decent job recently covering the national scandal that has hit the Pueblo County commissioner race, after remarks in a debate by Republican candidate Tom Ready questioning whether the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut in December of 2012 "really happened."

But that's the newsroom. Chieftain managing editor Steve Henson, unbelievably, is standing by Ready–even going as far as blaming Ready's Democratic opponent for bringing the Sandy Hook shootings up:

The exchange between Democratic County Commissioner Sal Pace and Republican Tom Ready regarding the shootings at Sandy Hook was, well, it was ugly.

Before the debate, Pace approached Ready and said he planned to be positive and Ready agreed to do the same. I know that to be true because I was standing right there, behind the curtains at Pueblo Memorial Hall with the two men.

Then, really out of nowhere during the debate, Pace pounced on Ready and attacked Ready’s Facebook page on which there is or was information disputing whether Sandy Hook really happened. Caught off guard, Ready said there were some questions about Sandy Hook and the audience went bananas.

The next day, Ready appeared at The Chieftain for a previously scheduled interview on a different topic and he explained that he knows the children died at Sandy Hook in a terrible massacre, but that he often puts controversial topics on his Facebook page as conversation pieces. He doesn’t necessarily believe in or endorse any of them, he said.

But, he conceded, Pace’s ambush — and make no mistake; it was an ambush — had been successful in hurting him. How successful? We’ll know in November.

Henson's blaming of Democrat Sal Pace for…either Tom Ready's Facebook post, or Ready's appalling answer when questioned at the debate, we're not sure which one Henson means–is of course totally ridiculous. Henson claims that Ready was "caught off guard," as if this was some kind of boxing match instead of a debate about issues. Henson doesn't quote Ready's verbatim answer to Pace's question, which again was, "there is still question about whether it really happened, Sal." What Henson doesn't want to admit is obvious: the audience "went bananas" not because Ready had merely stated there were "some questions about Sandy Hook." The audience became upset when Ready cast doubt on whether the Sandy Hook shootings "really happened."

With that in mind, we couldn't care less if Ready felt "ambushed." Ready's excuse that he "doesn't necessarily believe" what he posts on Facebook evaporated the moment he said himself in this debate that "there is still question about whether it really happened." This is about what Tom Ready publicly said, nothing else–and Henson's attempt to cover for him is so feeble it's really quite laughable.

Or would be, if it wasn't coming from the managing editor of a major newspaper.

Shaun Boyd’s Reality Check Dismantles Cory Gardner, Again

The last few weeks have been very hard on GOP U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner, with numerous objective news sources debunking claims Gardner has relied on to escape his unsightly past record on reproductive choice and contraception. The latest this past Friday was from CBS4's Shaun Boyd:

Key excerpts:

GARDNER: I believe the pill ought to be available over the counter around the clock without a prescription. 

BOYD: That's true. Gardner penned an op-ed calling for birth control bills to be available over the counter without a prescription, and for a provision of Obamacare that prevents insurers from covering the drugs without a prescription to be repealed. Even though he has opposed requiring insurers to require birth control in the past…

GARDNER: Mark Udall's plan is different. He wants to keep government bureaucrats between you and your health care plan.  That means more politics, and more profits for drug companies. My plan means more rights, more freedom, and more control for you.

BOYD: That's spin. Arguably both plans involved government bureaucrats. Udall supports Obamacare, that requires insurance to cover all birth control. And okay. That has meant more politics. But if Obamacare is repealed, something Gardner has voted to do repeatedly, insurers wouldn't have to pay for any birth control whether it is over the counter or not. Hard to see whether that is more rights, more freedom and more control for women. 

Finally, you should know that Gardner is sponsor of a federal Personhood measure that could outlaw many types of birth control including the pill. Bottom line, this isn't about birth control, it's about the female vote. Cory Gardner wants to be seen as pro-women, but his overall record on birth control is not his best example of that. [Pols emphasis]

We don't always agree with Boyd's conclusions in her Reality Check series, but we're big fans of her matter-of-fact delivery in this one. Overall, Boyd's frank style of reporting is very persuasive with the kinds of working class family types who watch local broadcast evening news. To have won over Shaun Boyd on this key issue in the U.S. Senate race is a big coup for Democrats, and demonstrative of the growing consensus among just about all the media voters will come across that Gardner is not being honest about his position on abortion and contraception.

If you're tired of hearing it, keep in mind: many voters still haven't. And that's why more "reality checks" are needed.

Sister of Sandy Hook Victim Demands Accountability From Gardner, Beauprez

SUNDAY UPDATE #2: The Denver Post's story on Tom Ready's comments was corrected late this morning, though their 180-degree misquote of what he said is unfortunately what their print subscribers are reading today:

*Editor's note: The article has been edited to correct the statement "There is still question about whether it really happened, Sal." The previous edit stated 'no question.' Lynn Bartels will follow up with a print correction in a future edition.

Not the fourth estate's finest hour, but we're glad to see the correction. Now if the Post can make sure as many people see the correction as saw the misquote to begin with…

Kidding, we know. It just kind of sucks like that.

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SUNDAY UPDATE: As a reader notes in comments, in addition to the Denver Post story published Saturday's failure to mention Republican Pueblo commissioner candidate Tom Ready's recent fundraiser attended by Senate candidate Cory Gardner and gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez (see below), it appears to have severely misquoted Ready's response to questions about whether the Sandy Hook shooting was a "hoax." The Post story quotes Ready responding in last week's debate, emphasis ours:

"There is no question about whether it really happened, Sal," said Ready, when questioned about the Newtown post.

When in fact, as video of the exchange plainly demonstrates, Ready said:

"There is still question about whether it really happened, Sal."

Again, here is the video. The statement in question comes just past the one minute mark:

Obviously, a correction is needed. And the 180-degree difference between the misquoted version and the accurate one is…notable.

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prayfornewtown

​Yesterday, we talked about the growing national scandal over the suggestion by Republican Pueblo county commissioner candidate Tom Ready in a debate this week that the mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut in December of 2012 may have been faked. One Colorado resident we know of close to that tragic event is Jane Dougherty, whose sister Mary Sherlach was the school psychologist at Sandy Hook Elementary. We speculated yesterday morning that she might not have much nice to say about Ready's theorizing.

We were not disappointed:

My name is Jane Dougherty and I'm from Littleton, CO. My sister Mary Sherlach was the school psychologist killed at Sandy Hook Elementary.  It is appalling that Representative Cory Gardner and Bob Beauprez attended an event at the home of Tom Ready, someone who believes that the tragedy in Newtown was a hoax. This is an insult to me, my family and to the many Coloradans whose lives have been touched by senseless gun violence. These two candidates want to represent the state of Colorado, yet they are willing to take money from an extremist, aligning themselves with someone who has dismissed the lives of six courageous adults and twenty little children. It is shameful and repulsive. I am calling on both of them to immediately disavow this conspiracy theorist and apologize to the Sandy Hook families and the people of Colorado.

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut similarly finds this whole business quite detestable:

With the connection of Ready's comments in a relatively obscure county commissioner debate in Pueblo to high-profile campaigns for the U.S. Senate and governor of Colorado, the story has taken on national significance. Concern that Ready could do harm to Republican campaigns well above his level is evident to us in a Denver Post story up now that fails to mention Gardner and Beauprez's attendance at a GOP fundraiser at Ready's home in late August at all. At this point, with the story already spreading on much bigger media outlets than the Post, that's probably not going to contain the damage.

And on a pretty basic moral level, we think Jane Dougherty should not be ignored.

Denver Post For Sale: Anschutz? Polis? Gill? Citizen Kane?

denverpost

Fascinating speculation on the possible fate of the state's newspaper of record The Denver Post, via Aldo Svaldi:

Digital First Media's decision to pursue "strategic alternatives," including a possible sale, could result in The Denver Post, and 13 smaller newspapers in the state, operating under local ownership by early next year, media analysts predict…

Rick Edmonds, an analyst with The Poynter Institute, said wealthy investors have purchased the flagship newspapers in Washington, Boston, Minneapolis and Anchorage, Alaska, under what he calls the "Black Beauty" strategy.

"You might end up with a nice owner who gives you a warm stall," he said. "There are good odds that there might be someone in Denver and San Jose who would have that feeling."

The person most likely to fill that bill in Colorado is Philip Anschutz, whose holdings include The Oklahoman in Oklahoma City and The Gazette in Colorado Springs, predicts Mutter.

If that sends a shiver down your left-leaning spine, you may not be alone:

A bid by Anschutz, known for his conservative views, could potentially trigger a rival offer from millionaires on the other side of the political spectrum.

They include Internet entrepreneur turned Congressman Jared Polis, D-Boulder, and Tim Gill, who made his fortune in software publishing program Quark.

Svaldi reports that wealthy Rep. Jared Polis was "coy" when asked about the possibility of buying the Denver Post. We're not privy to any discussion about this one way or the other, although news of the Post going up for sale was not itself a surprise. It's no secret that the newspaper business has been in decline for many years, and digital revenues haven't replaced the old subscription model enough to keep them profitable. Meanwhile, competition from other media for long-format detailed coverage via online publishing has eaten away at the major newspaper's traditional role as the principal contemporary historical record.

That said, acquisition of institutions like our state's biggest newspaper for any ideological purpose, left or right, could reasonably be considered troubling to those who would like to simply get straight undoctored news. That may be as old a fear as William Randolph Hearst, and partisan Denver Post political news editor Chuck Plunkett may have rendered the question irrelevant for time being anyway–but that doesn't make it sit much better with us. We can say that the Colorado Springs Gazette, a major daily paper in Colorado owned by Anschutz, has a newsroom that in our experience unflinchingly covers bad stories Republicans like Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt. The editorial board of the Gazette is conservative, but so is the market they serve.

One thing's for sure: we can't afford to buy the Post. Perhaps we'll buy a lottery ticket.

Big Line Updates: Udall, Romanoff Growing Lead

As Election Day gets closer and closer, we'll be updating The Big Line on a weekly basis.

Here's what we're currently thinking as to the main movers in the top races in Colorado:

U.S. SENATE
Mark Udall (65%)
Cory Gardner (35%)

We don't see either Udall or Gov. John Hickelooper losing in November, but for the first time, we have Udall as a slightly bigger favorite in his respective race. Gardner's campaign has been an absolute mess, and national politicos and reporters are coalescing around the idea that Udall is in the driver's seat now.

 

GOVERNOR
John Hickenlooper (60%)
Bob Beauprez (40%)

We have this race tightening a little as Gov. Hickenlooper works his way out of a summer-long campaign funk. For Beauprez, this comes down to a lack of time — too much needs to happen in the next 4-6 weeks for Beauprez to have a realistic shot at knocking off Hickenlooper.
 

ATTORNEY GENERAL, STATE TREASURER, SECRETARY OF STATE
Republican State Treasurer Walker Stapleton has not had a good month, but he's still favored to beat Democrat Betsy Markey. Meanwhile, we have the AG and SOS races as toss-ups at this point, primarily because it's difficult to determine whether any of the candidates can do much to control their own destiny; the amount of money pouring into the races for Senate, Governor, and CD-6 will make it nigh impossible for lower-tier statewide candidates to get their message out.
 

CD-6 (Aurora-ish)
Andrew Romanoff (55%)
Mike Coffman (45%)

We wrote earlier about our belief that Countdown Coffman is underway following incumbent Rep. Coffman's boorish behavior of late. We've been hearing consistent buzz that Romanoff has nudged ahead as Coffman seeks the momentum he needs to prevent a complete collapse.
 


Check out the full Big Line 2014 or comment below.

Wash Post: Dems Feel Good About Senate Races in IA, MI, and…Colorado

No really, trust me, says Cory Gardner

Personhood bill? Hey, look over there!

From our friends at "The Fix" comes an interesting new look at the Senate races around the country:

And so, before we ranked the twelve most competitive races in the fight for the Senate majority this fall, we chatted — via email — with a half dozen strategists in both parties to get their sense of which races are moving where. With a few exceptions, their impressions jibed — private polling rarely lies — and suggested that Republicans should feel good but not great about their chances of picking up the six seats they need to retake Senate control in November.

In pursuit of clarity, we've broken down their thoughts into three categories: 1) Races where Democrats feel good/Republicans don't 2) Races where Republicans feel good/Democrat's don't 3) Races where opinion is mixed.

In this reorganization of competitive Senate races, Colorado joins Iowa and Michigan as states where "Democrats feel good/Republicans don't" when it comes to November. Here's what "The Fix" says about Colorado specifically — which mirrors something we've been saying a lot lately:

10. Colorado (Democratic-controlled): Rep. Cory Gardner (R) is a talented politician. Unfortunately for him, some of the votes and positions – particularly on personhood – during his time in the House are being effectively used by Democrats as a cudgel against him with suburban Denver women. Those women, of course, also represent the swing constituency that a Republican must make inroads with to have a chance of winning statewide. (Previous ranking: 10)

Yes, Personhood is absolutely destroying Rep. Cory Gardner's campaign — and he has nobody to blame but himself. When Gardner tried to reverse his position on Personhood back in March, he did so with the hope that he could get this prickly issue out of the way to focus on other narratives. Not only did that experiment fail miserably, but Gardner has been chasing his tail trying to explain himself ever since. Things have gotten so bad that Gardner has been reduced to just flat-out lying about his co-sponsorship of a federal Personhood bill, telling 9News' Brandon Rittiman that "there is no federal Personhood bill." What is so fascinating here is Gardner's brazenness in insisting that the bill doesn't exist — even though it takes all of about 15 seconds to find it with a simple Google search; it takes some serious chutzpah to try to sell that shit sandwich (to a reporter, no less).

Some six months after Gardner tried to scrub himself of Personhood responsibility, the issue has become such a weight on his campaign that national reporters have picked up on the problem. So, that didn't work so well.

Planned Parenthood Debunks Gardner’s Contraception Math

A new ad running in Colorado from Planned Parenthood Action Fund tears into GOP U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner's "alternative plan" for over-the-counter sales of oral contraceptives, meant to replace the Affordable Care Act's guarantee of no-cost access to birth control for insured women once Gardner's stated goal of "repealing Obamacare" is achieved. From PPAF's release:

Here’s what you should know about Gardner’s dangerous record on women’s health, and what his OTC proposal really does when paired with his other positions:

• Gardner has voted consistently — and unsuccessfully — to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and take away women’s full coverage for all birth control methods. This is important, because it’s thanks to the ACA that women are able to get coverage of the full range of FDA-approved birth control at no cost.
• By taking away the birth control benefit, Gardner would actually make women pay more. How much more? Up to $600 a year.
• The nonpartisan research group PolitiFact rated Gardner’s claim that his proposal is “cheaper and easier for you” as “mostly false.”
• Gardner’s proposal ignores the fact that birth control is not “one size fits all”: many women don’t use the pill, and some of the most effective methods (like the IUD) need to be inserted by a trained health care provider.
• The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists issued a statement to make clear that Cory Gardner’s proposal is an unworkable choice between birth control access and affordability.
• American women saved $483 million over the past year alone thanks to the birth control benefit; Gardner wants to hand that bill right back to women.

While the issue of contraception has been well–some might say exhaustively–covered during this campaign, we'd say it's very important for someone on the Democratic side to knock back Gardner's "alternative" plan on the merits. It's one thing to explain how Gardner's long record of support for proposals that could ban certain forms of birth control makes his newfound zeal for over-the-counter birth control look like election year whitewash. But beyond that, there is the details of Gardner's proposal compared to the Affordable Care Act guarantee of zero-copay coverage for birth control. 

And those details prove that Gardner's deal is in and of itself a bad deal. However one feels about the politics of Gardner's come-lately support for OTC birth control, or the focus on the issue by Democrats, that's a message Democrats do need to get out there.

You Shall Know Them By The Company They Keep

UPDATE #2: In today's Pueblo Chieftain, Tom Ready responds…badly.

“I was definitely ambushed, no doubt about it,” Ready said, as The Huffington Post, The Daily Koss and other Internet news services ripped him for his comments…

“I know those kids were killed,” Ready said of Sandy Hook. “But there are some facts that have not been proven. That’s all I was alluding to, period. It’s terrible.”

…Asked whether the comments hurt his chances to gain a seat for Republicans that just one candidate, Jim Brewer, has won in recent years, Ready said, “Well yeah. I had some lady come up to me and say ‘That was the worst thing I heard in my life.’ But it doesn’t kill my campaign.”

Sal Pace isn't sorry:

Pace responded: “Tom Ready set himself up plain and simple. He posted an absolutely outrageous conspiracy theory on Facebook, I called him on it, and he not only didn’t deny it, but he doubled down on it. That’s absolutely shameful, and I’m glad this story is getting the attention it deserves.

“Real kids, the same ages as my kids, died.” [Pols emphasis]

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UPDATE: It didn't take long for a photo of Tom Ready and Bob Beauprez to surface.

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Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

​​As Huffington Post's Samantha Lachman reports, the unpleasant story of Republican Pueblo County Commissioner candidate Tom Ready, whose incendiary conspiracy theorist views on the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting were challenged by Democratic incumbent Sal Pace this week, has now ensnared Republican candidates at the top of Colorado's ballot:

Given that Colorado has had its fair share of mass shootings, the fact that two high-profile Republicans there attended an event with a candidate for local office who has expressed doubts about whether the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting really happened might strike some voters as insensitive. [Pols emphasis]

Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who is running to unseat Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), and former Rep. Bob Beauprez (R-Colo.), who is challenging Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), attended an Aug. 24 Republican Party steak fry at the home of Dr. Tom Ready, a candidate for Pueblo County Commissioner. Photos of the event were shared on Facebook.

Pueblo Commissioner candidate Tom Ready (R).

Pueblo Commissioner candidate Tom Ready (R).

To recap, here is what Tom Ready said at this week's debate in Pueblo:

In a Sept. 10 debate, Ready's Democratic opponent asked him why he had shared an article on Facebook claiming that the 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, that killed 26 people was actually a hoax arranged by the federal government to advance gun control policies.

"There is some question whether it really happened," Ready responded.

As the crowd booed, Ready explained his theory.

"Some people in the videos, thank you very much, if you recall, there was a picture of a man walking in whose daughter had died. He was smiling and joking. When he walked into the room he turned and all of a sudden had tears in his eyes. Why? I question that."

“I don’t think [the Sandy Hook shootings have] been proven," he added. "And what’s wrong with open discussion?” [Pols emphasis]

Needless to say, this photo is now a significant liability for U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner:

We haven't seen an equivalent picture of Tom Ready with GOP gubernatorial nominee Bob Beauprez, but to be honest, that would be less shocking given Beauprez's lengthy history of similarly wacky on-record statements. It's important to recognize that the Sandy Hook conspiracy theory relies on larger suppositions by gun rights extremists, who believe that the government is working nefariously to deprive them of their Second Amendment rights.

Indeed, there are family members of victims of the Sandy Hook shootings who joined the debate over gun safety legislation at the Colorado legislature last year. One who was prominent during that debate was Jane Dougherty of Littleton, whose sister died at Sandy Hook Elementary. We haven't seen any statement from Dougherty about Tom Ready as of this writing, but we think we know what she would say. And it wouldn't be very nice.

Bottom line: Sandy Hook denialism is just another flavor of the same far-right fringe that has had a disturbing degree of influence in Republican politics in Colorado in recent years. What may be most troubling about Tom Ready's flirtation with this madness is that it is not terribly uncommon. We submit to our readers that such extreme viewpoints were far more common among the organizers of last year's recall elections, which Ready of course supported, than among the general population. Don't get us wrong: we're pretty certain that once Gardner and Beauprez are asked about this, assuming our genteel local media works up the nerve to ask, they will distance themselves from Ready, and any suggestion that the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings were somehow faked to precipitate gun control.

But the damage is done. The connection is in the record. The photo cannot be untaken.

We’re On A Bigger Badder Server Now, Really

Our site was bedeviled by technical problems yesterday, caused by a combination of heavy election-year traffic and a new but underconfigured server we migrated to this past weekend. Over the last few months, we have strained the capacity of the low-cost shared hosting environment the site lived in, which necessitated the major upgrade performed this weekend.

Yesterday, while our faithful readers were cursing at us as our site loaded at a glacial pace (if at all), our technical people were slaving away doing all of the things to make WordPress not just run, but run right on this new quad-core dedicated server. We've been assured that this server overall is vastly better suited to the traffic loads we routinely get during election season, and we're even more beefed up now by "caching" technology at both the server and WordPress level. With any luck, the performance problems we've been having recently won't recur.

Hopefully we've explained this all correctly, since we'll be the first to confess we're just bloggers; not technical experts. If you encounter any trouble using the site, please send a message to alva@coloradopols.com and we'll get the experts on it.

SurveyUSA/Denver Post: Hickenlooper 45%, Beauprez 43%

Bob Beauprez would like for you to just take a nap for a few months.

Bob Beauprez would like for you to just take a nap for a few months.

This morning the Denver Post released results from polling partner SurveyUSA on the U.S. Senate race, and this afternoon they released information about their poll of the Governor contest. As reporter Jon Murray explains for the Post:

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper's race against Republican Bob Beauprez was too close to call in a new Denver Post poll in which voters indicated they were still getting familiar with the challenger.

Forty-five percent supported Hickenlooper and 43 percent supported Beauprez among likely voters polled this week by SurveyUSA. The result is within the margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percent.

We'll admit that it is a bit surprising to see Republican Bob Beauprez polling so close to Gov. John Hickenlooper. When Beauprez last ran for Governor in 2006, polling at this point in the race showed that he was already trailing Democrat Bill Ritter by double-digits in a race he went on to lose by a staggering 17-point margin. Beauprez isn't yet in the same kind of trouble in 2014, but when you dig a little deeper into the poll results, the upside isn't as bright for Both Ways Bob. Again, from the Post

Beauprez's figures had a positive spread: 38 percent favorable to 34 percent unfavorable.

But 28 percent said they needed to know more about Beauprez, a former congressman who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2006, to form an opinion. Only 7 percent had no opinion about Hickenlooper.

Beauprez is polling so close to Hickenlooper largely because of the Governor's own summer of self-inflicted political wounds. Beauprez has a 34% unfavorable rating — and 28% of voters still say they don't know enough about him to form an opinion — which makes it clear that this is all about Hickenlooper's (un)popularity at this point. Poll respondents aren't saying, "We want Beauprez" as much as they are declaring "We're not real happy with Hickenlooper." This is a significant difference, which is summed up well by one telling quote from a poll respondent:

"He doesn't have a very strong backing from me, other than he's done a pretty good job in creating jobs for Colorado," said Chris Delaney, 29, a Denver resident who told SurveyUSA he planned to vote for Hickenlooper despite disapproving of his performance [Pols emphasis]. "But that's not the only thing a governor's supposed to do. He just doesn't seem to represent my views and things that are important to me."

Plenty of voters may disapprove of Hickenlooper's performance as Governor, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they want to replace him with Beauprez. And that's where things remain difficult for Beauprez; he can't control his own destiny. Beauprez needs Hickenlooper to lose voter support before he can win the race for himself, and there just isn't enough time for both things to happen.

The amount of negative information floating around about Beauprez is, in a word, staggering. Keep that in mind as we go back to that 28% of poll respondents who say they don't know enough about Beauprez — it's unlikely that uninformed voters are going to be attracted to Beauprez as they learn more about him.

If that 28% remains uninformed — and a barrage of pro-Hickenlooper TV ads don't change the Governor's numbers — then Beauprez has a chance in November. Barring a two-month power outage in Colorado, we don't see how that can happen.

 

Pueblo Commissioner Candidate Believes Sandy Hook was a Hoax

Pols reader and diarist mamajama55 wrote earlier about debates for Pueblo County Commissioner last night that produced a plethora of interesting statements from various candidates.

But one moment in the debate was so completely ridiculous that we thought it deserved its own post. Republican Tom Ready, who is challenging incumbent Commissioner Sal Pace in Pueblo County, is apparently a believer in the absurd "Sandy Hook Shootings are a Hoax" conspiracy theory. If you are unfamiliar with this particular conspiracy theory, it revolves around the idea that the shooting of 20 students and 6 staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Connecticut was a hoax perpetrated by shadowy government figures in order to promote gun control policies. As the "theory" goes, hundreds of people in Newtown, CT were actually actors pretending to have children in school at Sandy Hook, and the reported attack in December 2012 never actually happened…or something like that.

As you can see in the video clip after the jump, Tom Ready is out of his damn mind:

There's some question about whether it really happened, Sal. If you recall, there were two men, walking in, (….) he was smiling and joking. When he walked over, he turned, and all of a sudden, he had tears in his eyes. Why? I question it. ……whether it's all true or not, it's open for discussion. Nothing wrong with discussion.

Um, yes, there is plenty wrong with discussing something with the intent of downplaying a horrible event in American history that has deeply affected the lives of so many people. We think Tom Ready is a complete fucking asshole — hey, nothing wrong with discussion, right?

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